Government publishes policy paper on EU citizens’ rights in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit

December 14, 2018

On 6 December 2018, the government published a policy paper which guarantees to protect the rights of EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by 29 March 2019, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. However, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the offer was a “watered-down” version of the terms agreed in the withdrawal agreement.

The paper confirms that in a no-deal scenario the UK would continue to run the EU Settlement Scheme but only for those EU nationals and their family members resident in the UK by 29 March 2019, not 31 December 2020, as there would be no agreed implementation period. EU citizens would have until 31 December 2020 to apply for status under the scheme. Until then, EU citizens could rely on their passport or national ID card to evidence their right to reside in the UK. The UK would also continue to honour the right of those who obtain settled status under the scheme to be able to leave the UK for up to five years without losing their right to return.

Other stated differences in a no-deal scenario would include:

•       The deadline for applications under the EU Settlement Scheme would be 31 December 2020, not 30 June 2021 as there would not be an agreed six-month grace period.

•       EU citizens with settled status could be joined in the UK, but only up to 29 March 2022, by existing close family members who were living overseas on 29 March 2019 provided the relationship existed at that time and continues to exist when the family member applies.

•       The appeal rights open to EU citizens to challenge a refusal of status under the EU Settlement Scheme would be more limited as the ECJ would not have any jurisdiction in the UK.

The paper also calls on the EU and Member States to offer protection for the rights of UK nationals living in the EU in the event of a no-deal scenario.

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Immigration is a complex area of law for both corporates and individuals. Please contact our Immigration Law / Employment Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.

Conor McCrory, Associate, Immigration Law Team, Cleaver Fulton Rankin, Solicitors.